Regulating distance contracts: Time to take stock


Ioana Delapeta, Marcel Boucher


Union des consommateurs




Contracts concluded at a distance between merchant and consumers have been of great interest to international organizations (OECD, UN, etc.) and governments since the arrival of the Internet. The issue remains current, particularly because new purchasing methods are developing and proliferating (e.g. the variety of purchases made on mobile telephones).

Union des consommateurs (UC) study examines the regulations adopted by Canadian provinces regarding distance contracts, and focuses on Internet contracts. We analyse those regulations in light of the Internet Sales Contract Harmonization Template, but also in reference to the new European Directive, 2011/83/EU, adopted to update the rules for these types of contracts, eliminate inconsistencies, and correct shortcomings in member countries.

UC's research leads them to conclude that regulations of online trade (E-commerce) in Canada should be harmonized and, more importantly, modernized. In addition, the regulatory framework for distance contracts, which applies mainly to the merchants information requirements and to the consumers right to cancel the contract if those requirements are not met, should take into account the peculiarities of each medium.

UC's case law research also reveals shortcomings in the implementation of the regulatory framework studied, along with the courts misunderstanding of E-commerce peculiarities.

UC's study leads them to recommend a modernization and clarification of rules applicable to contracts concluded on the Internet. The adoption of measures similar to those favoured abroad should be considered as a priority, including the right of withdrawal.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Union des consommateurs
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Montreal, QC  H3N 1X1
(514) 521-6820
(514) 521-0736

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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